Have I Remembered This Right?

Have I Remembered This Right?

We’re delighted to be working with Eamonn Fleming, who is writing and performing in a new show all about memory and making stuff up. Here he reflects on his recent Research & Development process, as part of which he spent four weeks in different theatres making new material that will end up in the finished show.

Week 1: Harrogate Theatre

A year since I had the idea for a show about memory science and thanks to hooking up with LittleMighty, we’ve got an Arts Council Grant and it’s happening.

Me and director Nick Lane are in the lovely rehearsal space at Theatre Royal Harrogate. We’ve got a huge pile of my random script ideas and research spread out on the table, a digital recorder to capture the improvs, and after a warm welcome from Harrogate’s wonderful studio programmer Emma McDowell, I have to stand up in a room and do something interesting and funny.

The challenge this week is to nail down how the show will work: getting the memory science and the personal memories to work together. It’s not a lecture, I’m not a scientist. It’s a piece of theatre, and I’m an actor. This is where Nick’s years of experience really count. We do a showing of 15 mins worth of material at the end of the week and it goes down well.

Week 2: Sheffield Theatres

The last time I was in this room, I was part of a massive cast, working with Daniel Evans on The Full Monty. Now it’s just me and Nick. Weird. The process is simple: shuffle through the notes, improvise around an idea, record it, edit it, transcribe it, move on.

It’s surprising how braindead I feel at the end of each day. All I’m doing is making stuff up. Kids do this for fun. The showing brings some great constructive feedback. I also try out a brilliantly stupid joke that works well. Which is a good thing, as this show is supposed to be funny.

Week 3: The HUB, Leeds

The most endearingly eccentric place I’ve ever rehearsed. And I’ve devised a kids show in a Sub Tropical forest in Southern Japan, so I know what I’m talking about. This week we get Adam Robinson in to film a trailer and do some stills shots to help sell the show. I also discover that I can turn my guitar amp up REALLY LOUD, as there’s no one else in the building. Which is nice. I waste quite a bit of time doing this, to be honest. My excuse is that it’s cold in here, so it’s helping me to keep warm. Nick isn’t buying it. Feedback from the showing suggests we need to tweak some of the personal stuff a bit, to keep the narrative flowing. Nothing major. Just plant a few hints early on to help tie stuff together at the end.

Week 4: York Theatre Royal

My old stomping ground. Looks amazing after the rebuild. By Weds afternoon we have an ending. This means we have the luxury of two days revisiting, editing etc. For the final showing we try some random sections. Really frustrating to have to stop now and go home. But I’m looking forward to working with artist Kathy Hinde on the visuals and getting the scientific stuff checked by Dr Julia Shaw, our friendly Psychologist. Now all we have to do is sell the tour…

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